(Author’s Note: The following game report contains dark humor. As the name implies, dark humor is both dark and humor. The adjective merely modifies, but does not negate, the noun.)
After being swept by Baseball America’s seventh- and ninth-ranked teams on each of the last two weekends, the Diamond Dogs traveled to Turner Field in the hope of avoiding the season sweep at the hands of eighth-ranked Georgia Tech. Since we all know how the 350th series meeting between the ancient rivals turned out, and since many of you are looking for alternatives to Georgia baseball, permit me to perform the public service of providing, along with my inning-by-inning recap of the latest outing of the worst baseball season ever, a list of ten popular methods of torture. Why? Oh, no reason, really; it just seemed appropriate, somehow.
First Inning: Southpaw frosh Blake Dieterich made his third start of the season and his second against the Yellow Jackets, persuading Jeff Rowland to swing at strike three and extracting a flyout from Derek Dietrich before surrendering a double to Tony Plagman and walking Cole Leonida in the top of the frame. Matt Skole popped up to strand two. Sophomore Mark Pope, making his third start against the Red and Black, retired the side in sequence in the home half of the canto. Accompanying Torture Method: Abacination.
Second Inning: The Engineers were set down on a foulout, a groundout, and a flyout before Zach Cone was plunked to start the bottom of the stanza. Pope picked off the Georgia center fielder before coaxing outs from the next two Bulldog batters. Accompanying Torture Method: Branding.
Third Inning: The Golden Tornado went three up and three down in the top of the frame, and the Athenians followed suit in their turn at the plate. One-third of the way through the contest, the clash was scoreless, errorless, and very nearly hitless. Accompanying Torture Method: Flagellation.
Fourth Inning: No batter for either team reached base in the canto. Accompanying Torture Method: Keelhauling.
Fifth Inning: The top half of the stanza generated some excitement when Chase Burnette drew a leadoff walk, but Thomas Nichols promptly lined into a double play and Jacob Esch flied out to center field. After Cone grounded out to start the bottom of the inning, Kyle Farmer reached first on a Skole error. Robert Shipman followed that up by drawing a base on balls, and both runners advanced on a wild pitch. Pope struck out the next two Classic City Canines to hold the would-be go-ahead run 90 feet from home plate. Accompanying Torture Method: Picquet.
Sixth Inning: Dieterich having done his duty by tossing five scoreless frames of one-hit baseball, Michael Palazzone took over in the top of the canto. The new Georgia hurler gave up a one-out single to Rowland, who stole second and took third on a Dietrich groundout before Plagman stared at a called third strike. Todd Hankins opened the bottom of the stanza with a bunt single and Johnathan Taylor evened the hits at two per side with a base knock of his own. Peter Verdin’s bunt single loaded the bases for Levi Hyams, who carded the Diamond Dogs’ fourth straight base hit (and fourth hit of the game) to bring home the first run of the contest. Although Cone popped up and Farmer struck out, Shipman plated another run with a base hit before Chase Davidson struck out looking. Accompanying Torture Method: Scaphism.
Seventh Inning: Palazzone procured the initial out in the visitors’ half of the frame, then gave way to Justin Earls. The Red and Black reliever surrendered successive singles to Skole and Burnette but elicited outs from Nichols and Esch to keep the Athenians out in front by two in runs (2-0) and by one in hits (5-4). Hankins and Taylor registered back-to-back one-out singles in the bottom of the stanza, but the next two Diamond Dogs recorded outs. Accompanying Torture Method: Sleep deprivation.
Eighth Inning: Rowland dropped a one-out double into center field, and a Dietrich single put runners at the corners. When Plagman plated a run with a sacrifice fly, Jeff Walters came in from the bullpen. The latest Georgia pitcher gave up the single to Leonida that evened the hits at seven per side and the triple to Skole that resulted in Georgia Tech being ahead by one in runs (3-2), hits (8-7), and errors (1-0). Burnette’s ensuing double marked the fifth hit, and brought home the fourth run, of the frame. Walters proceeded to walk Nichols and Esch before giving up another double to Evan Martin. This caused two more runs to cross home plate and Justin Grimm to be sent to the mound, where he did what his predecessor on the hill could not; viz., record one lousy dadgum out. Pope had hit the showers after carding nine strikeouts and conceding seven hits in as many frames for another stellar effort against the Diamond Dogs, so the hurling duties devolved upon Patrick Long in the bottom of the inning. Farmer sent a one-out single into center field and stole second as Shipman struck out swinging, at which point the Yellow Jackets sent Taylor Wood to the mound and the Bulldogs sent Kevin Ruiz to the plate. The pinch hitter got the better of the confrontation, drawing a walk after seeing Farmer take third on a wild pitch, and the next such battle took place between new pitcher Andrew Robinson and substitute slugger Brett DeLoach. Again the pinch hitter prevailed, pushing two runs across with a double to center field before Hankins flied out to end the stanza that had seen eight of the two teams’ combined ten runs scored. Accompanying Torture Method: Strappado.
Ninth Inning: Plagman parked a one-out single in center field in the top of the canto, whereupon Leonida struck out and Skole walked. A wild pitch permitted the Ramblin’ Wreck first baseman to make it as far as third before Burnette flied out to conclude the Yellow Jackets’ eighth scoreless canto in nine frames. The Classic City Canines returned to the plate in the home half of the inning trailing by two, and the first two Bulldog batters flied out and struck out, respectively. Hyams drove a double to center field, thereby bringing the would-be tying run to the plate, but Cone grounded out to leave the Athenians winless in the season series. Accompanying Torture Method: Waterboarding.
Game Summary: Sometimes, I don’t understand David Perno’s and Brady Wiederhold’s strategy when it comes to pitching switches. Granted, I only followed the game on the computer and was not able to watch it, so maybe there’s something I’m missing, but I didn’t understand the decision to pull either Blake Dieterich or Justin Earls. Mark Pope improved his record to 7-0, while the first five hitters in the Red and Black order batted in just one run between them. The Diamond Dogs are now 0-11 in games in which Georgia committed no errors and 0-25 in games in which Georgia trailed after eight innings. The Athenians stranded nine baserunners in the final five frames. Accompanying Torture Method: The last time we played these guys.